accident, back pain, car accident, chronic pain, disability, health, medical device, nerve pain, pain, pain management, Quell, TENS unit
Comments 166

The Quell Pain Relief Device: Living Up to Its Label?

The Quell Pain Relief Device (1)

My long-awaited Quell pain relief device has finally arrived!

As soon as I saw the FedEx truck rumble by, I heaved myself out of my chair and hurried to the front door, hoping to see that plain, unassuming box sitting on the front step. There it was, as I’d dreamed for months. I basically ripped it open with my teeth.

This was 0.02 seconds after FedEx dropped off the box.

This was 0.02 seconds after FedEx dropped off the package.

I backed the Quell IndieGogo the moment I discovered it during the winter; it had already tripled its $100,000 goal. At this point my fairly useless pain clinic says I have exhausted most of my options in terms of what they can provide, unless I want to try an IV lidocaine/ketamine mix. I had the IV lidocaine infusion two weeks ago, and the aftermath was nothing short of a pain-riddled disaster. I’m grasping at straws here.

Quell makes grand promises in its sleek promotional video. As PSFK said:

TENS systems aren’t new in the market but Quell’s prescription-free, user-friendly and discrete approach is special. The Quell, no matter where the body pain is, could be left strapped at the calf where there is an abundance of nerve endings. It can also be worn 24/7 to provide round the clock pain relief.

I drowned in their website, seeking every bit of information I could. How was this device different than others on the market? How is it different than the TENS unit I already own? There are already devices worn on the calf that treat sciatica and other lower-body ailments. There are an abundance of nerve endings in that area, so it makes sense — but how can it reach the upper half of the body?

The Quell device claims to treat the entire body, producing a natural opioid-like effect through the use of electro-stimulation. It can give you relief day or night, switching on for 60-minute therapy sessions (it switches off after an hour in order to keep the user from developing resistance and switches to 80 percent power when the user is asleep). As they say on their website FAQ:

How is Quell different than other TENS devices?

Quell’s proven wearable intensive nerve stimulation (WINS) technology is double the strength of other products on the market today, enabling the device to trigger broad pain relief that covers other areas of your body. Quell’s OptiTherapy™ calibrates to your optimal stimulation level ensuring you receive maximum relief.

As it turned out, I didn’t care that I had no understanding of its schematics. I dove right in past the technical specs and the glowing media reviews.

Let's look inside!

Let’s look inside!

Dis is ma leg. LOOK AT IT.

Dis is mah leg. LOOK AT IT.

The Quell electrode lasts for two (2) weeks.

The Quell electrode, which snaps into the calf band, lasts for two weeks. Replacement electrodes cost $30. As the Quell is available over the counter for $250 and does not require a prescription, insurance will currently not cover the device or its electrodes.

I got this thing set up in less than five minutes.

I got the Quell out of the box and set up in three minutes.

Some Fattie for all of you cat lovers out there.

Some Fattie for all of you cat lovers out there. Surprisingly, we bought the couch without realizing that she blends into it.

The Quell is currently strapped onto my leg. I can feel the gentle TENS-like vibration against my calf. According to the manual, the device can provide relief in 15 minutes. The synced iPhone app states that I have had it on for 30 minutes as of this writing, but I am also reclining in a chair. I am going to attempt some movement and report back.

… FIFTEEN MINUTES LATER …

I love this device, and no, I’m not being paid for this blog post. I have 11 minutes left of my first 60-minute session. I just did some gentle yoga to test my range of motion and then enjoyed lunch on the back porch, sitting in an uncomfortable metal chair without much trouble. I can still feel the pain in my back and neck, but it feels removed. Like there’s a layer of fluffy gauze in between us. It’s like I am disconnected from my body. The tingling on my calf was distracting at first, but now it feels reassuring, telling me that something is working.

Honestly, I have no idea how this device is different than others. I know what the company says, but I don’t get how it operates. It uses “well-established TENS technology,” and I have a TENS unit. It does not feel like this, but it is somehow utilizing the same technology. The Boston Globe looked into this:

A TENS machine sends low-voltage electricity through the patient’s nervous system. In response, the patient’s body increases its output of endorphins and enkephalins, two naturally occurring chemicals that tend to reduce pain. The treatment can be an effective alternative to drugs and poses no risk of addiction.

Basically, it’s a super-TENS. It uses the cluster of nerves in the calf to send pain-blocking signals all over the body. Even after a session ends, the effect is supposed to continue for up to 40 minutes. It is to be used as a complement to a patient’s normal medication regimen, boosting up those effects and filling the gap that is not covered by traditional prescriptions or methodologies.

And now, as I check the iPhone app: “Next therapy: 18 minutes away.” I am going to keep monitoring its effects. There’s a 60-day money-back guarantee, since TENS devices don’t always work for everyone. However, I am feeling very optimistic about this product and am looking forward to that next therapy session.

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166 Comments

  1. Hey Jennifer Kain Kilgore,
    This one is very well explained. I will definitely share with my friends and on my twitter. But I have one question: You said “” TENS systems aren’t new in the market but Quell’s prescription-free, user-friendly and discrete approach is special. “” But Don’t you think Tens Units have very good genuine reviews ? And people will see reviews first. What do you think on this?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi there! You make a very good point, and Tens Units do have great reviews. I do still use my Tens Unit when I have bad days, especially on the base of my head, neck and shoulders — the Quell seems to have a lesser effect on my neck pain, where I’ve had two fusions, so the Tens really zeroes in on that pain. I think that each has its own uses and will still be needed. A Tens is great for targeted pain, like where I had my fusions. A Quell is great for all-over pain, like fibromyalgia or diffuse chronic pain that can’t be targeted by just a few ledes. In tandem, they can do wonders. I hope that explains my thinking. And thank you very much for the share! 🙂

      Like

  2. Leah Bobbine says

    What are the ongoing costs once I have purchased the Quell ? Do you have to buy rods every month? Or is it a one off payment, with no on going cost?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi there! The ongoing costs are the electrodes, which strap into the Quell itself. That’s how electricity passes through the device into your body. I think it’s $30 for two of them (they come in packs of two), and each of them lasts approximately two weeks, though I wear mine for longer than two weeks. They don’t advise that because the gel breaks down, but I want to get my money’s worth, you know? They do run a lot of specials and sales throughout the year, which helps a lot. And I write it off on my taxes.

      Liked by 1 person

      • $15 per electrode pad is very excessive, for my tens unit I pay approximately $3 per pad and I can usually where them for several weeks. It’s sad that the company feels the need to mark up the cost of the pads so exorbitantly. I’m on disability and on a fixed income and there’s no way I could afford the initial cost of nearly $300 with an additional $60+ a month for the pads

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    • D Welch – We appreciate your concerns about the cost of Quell. We continually face the challenge of balancing the high costs associated with bringing the latest technology to the marketplace and delivering it at a price point that makes it accessible to the largest number of people possible. We assure you that is our goal. Each individual electrode will last an average of 2 weeks, so a one month supply will cost $30. We do periodically offer discounts on electrodes through our website as well.

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  3. JOHN Paulsen says

    Very well written article, very well describes the Quell. I can say this, I have only had my Quell for one day. But this is nothing short of amazing for me

    Like

  4. Pamela says

    Thank you for a great review. As a long term chronic pain patient(MS, Fibromyalgia, Facet & Sciatca) there are so many snake oil salesman out there for everything under the Sun. They all promise they are the God Send to end our pain. As I try to reduce my severe pain medications thanks to the DEA crack down on the wrong targeted group(the chronic pain patient), I am once again back to trying to research alternative attempts to reduce the pain. I have used a micro current stimulator and TENS for years as a alternative to the pain. Since I do know this at times dulls the pain enough that I can keep moving on, when I saw this it caught my interest. The cost though stopped me, because this is a lot of money to shell out for something that is still a big ???mark. My micro and TENS were covered by insurance. As I noticed you wrote this blog a little over 2yrs ago from today, I would like to ask you is it still working well for you?

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    • Hi Pamela — thanks so much! I still wear it today, more than three years later. 🙂 Hopefully they’ll be covered by insurance one day, that’s the downside is the ongoing cost of the electrodes and the initial cost of the device. They do have a trial period to make sure it works for you if you order directly from them, though! (As opposed to like, Target or whatever. I think. I could be wrong. Maybe that’s somehow still offered if you buy it at Target.) I think using this in conjunction with a micro current stimulator should be fine if you’ve already used it with a TENS, though I would double-check them to be safe. Good luck! Let me know how it goes!

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      • Jeff says

        A note about returning the Quell – I purchased one from CVS, and had only moderate success using it. To the manufacturer’s credit, they accepted the return with no questions asked. So the guarantee was very risk free! (Also, I had a couple of 30% off coupon codes from CVS, so was able to get the Quell for $175 as well as extra electrodes for about $22 or so. All I needed to do to get the coupon codes was first place an order with CVS for $49; the code came in the shipment. I’m not sure if they still do this, but it’s worth an ask.)

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Rachael Murphy says

    I love your article, I can feel the excitement through your writing. It definitely reflects my excitement that I felt when my Quell came in the mail too.
    I’m a college student and I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia in January. I had been trying to navigate my day with pain and fatigue on my own to no avail. I’m on 3 different medications now to help my symptoms, and I found Quell in May looking for fibromyalgia remedies other than medication.
    It worked for me within 10 minutes of putting it on! I could feel the wave of relief slowly spread from my calf to my entire body. Over the next week I did a bit of experimentation, wearing it for a few days then leaving it off for a few days. I can’t go a day, or even a few hours without it now, because my symptoms come back with a vengeance.
    I know TENS devices don’t work for everyone, but I am so happy I found something that works for me. I’m glad Quell works for you too.

    I wish you the best!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I am so glad you found something that works so well for you! Especially when you are dealing with college, which is difficult enough on its own. I hope it continues to help you! Fibro is hard to deal with, but it sounds like you have a handle on it. You rock, girl! 😀

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  6. Hi Jennifer,
    I am a 32 year old strength & conditioning coach and fitness model or at least i was before my car accident. I sustained a 33% compression fracture of my L1 and a T6 end-plate fracture along with some small rib fractures. I have been in pain for a little over 2.5 years and find myself just trying to live with the pain. A second opinion doctor recommended a spinal cord stimulator but i am not comfortable with something being implanted into my spine. I have also started using CBD oil for pain because i do not like the opiod drugs, which seems to take the edge off but i am still experiencing significant pain being on my feet 8 hours a day with periodic breaks. I have severe para-spinal muscle spasms along with spine and rib tenderness. I just started working in a new field and do experience pain throughout the day so by the time i get home all i want to do is lay on my floor. I am unable to exercise due to the severe nerve pain i experience about an hour after and the next day. Is this something you think may be able to help me get back into the gym and maybe start living pain free?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Jane — I am so sorry about your accident, and I’m glad you found my blog! I also can’t believe your strength, because I don’t think I could handle the pain the way you do. I have to use medications with my Quell, and the fact that you have managed to get by without any at all is amazing. You are one strong woman. I think based on where your injury is, the Quell might work well for you. My fractures were T11-12, L1 with end-plate and rib fractures, so we have some in common. We are also pretty close in age, and I have muscle spasms as well. If you order from them directly, I think you can try it for 60 days in a trial period, and if it doesn’t work, you can send it back and get your money returned. I would try that before a spinal cord stimulator. Please let me know what you decide and if it works for you! Good luck! ❤

      Like

      • After doing my research i will be ordering my QUELL device this week and i am very excited to see how it can help me with my pain along with my NSAIDS pain meds and muscle relaxers. Thank you for sharing your story i hope to be writing a very enthusiastic post to you soon!

        Liked by 1 person

    • Jane – Quell would definitely be worth a try! Quell is broadly indicated for the relief of chronic pain. We’re hearing from patients with a wide variety of chronic pain conditions who have reported experiencing relief with Quell. We can’t tell you definitively whether you will get relief with Quell, but we do offer a 60 day money back guarantee (regardless of where you purchase the device!) so you can try it risk-free. We also have a fantastic Customer Care team (800-204-6577) in our office here in Boston that can assist you along the way as you get up and running.

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  7. Nancy Snyder says

    Dear Jennifer: I was really happy to find your information. I am interested in the Quell unit, although the cost does discourage me somewhat. However, I’d like to discuss something else you mentioned, if you don’t mind. You said that even with the Quell and a TENS unit, you still require pain medication. I am on pain medication for a variety of problems; my situation/problem is that most of my pain is not easily verifiable. I began with migraines years ago; I had to beg for Imitrex (I was told all I needed was a glass of wine and a hot tub up to my nose). Even after I was finally, grudgingly, given migraine medication, the migraines would sometimes break through, particularly if I didn’t take the Imitrex quickly enough. I would wait until I was dry heaving from the pain before heading to an emergency room where hopefully I would be given a shot that took the pain away but put me out for a day. All the while, I was treated with suspicion as “drug seeking.” Meanwhile, I developed fibromyalgia and other pain in my back, neck, knees and other joints which I believe is a combination of arthritis and damage from years ago when I was in a police academy. Unfortunately for me, my neurologist is no longer in practice and my family doctor left what is a very conservative (country) area. I have gone to several other neurologists and every one has told me I must stop taking all my medications- all of them. I almost couldn’t find a family physician who would take me because of the pain medication- I was actually told that generally, people like us are more trouble than we’re worth. Just last month I saw a neurologist who advises his patients to follow the “Choose Wisely” program; from what I gather, the bottom line is to choose to live with the pain (no kidding). Please understand that I have been on the same level of medication for years without an increase. Also, it doesn’t completely eliminate my pain but I deal with it as best I can; it varies from day to day. Now I’m hearing all sorts of things in the news such as 3 part series on the evils of opioids that are killing people left and right. The thing is, if you listen carefully, the overdoses are from illegal heroin mixed with fentanyl, not prescription medication taken as directed. The knee jerk response is that people take the illicit drugs because they got hooked on prescription medication. That may happen, but I doubt it happens in the numbers they claim. Moreover, I suspect that people who get caught (revived) find much more sympathy if they claim they got hooked because of a root canal! Now I’m hearing that there’s a move to ban higher doses of OxyContin. Not being a physician, I can’t speak to whether this is an appropriate move. I do know that it sounds like a first step to banning more and more pain medications that people need. In any event, why ban these drugs? Shouldn’t it be the doctor’s responsibility to monitor the patient and provide pain relief as needed? Haven’t these “experts” figured out that if people are truly in pain and denied help, they may in fact turn to the illicit drugs that are killing them? Finally, people like me can’t write a letter to the Editor (because we sound like junkies), can’t argue with the doctors upon whom we depend, in short can have no recourse. Who speaks for us? I’m sorry I went on and on and the subject is actually the Quell unit. I just wondered if you might feel the same way, or might have suggestions as to how we can begin to defend ourselves without sounding like we’re “drug seeking.” Thanks for letting me get that off my chest.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, honey. I am so, so sorry for your pain. I am so sorry about your terrible doctors. If one of mine talked to me like that, I honestly don’t know what I would do. I live in Boston, where they have been very scared by the opioid epidemic, but they are generally more on top of things and understand that we need SOMETHING in order to survive. That means they’ll top us out at something like Tramadol or Nucynta (synthetic opioids) to string us along, usually in tandem with some sort of steroid procedure or in-house nerve ablation. Your doctors don’t even sound like they know what pain management is. Family doctors are generalists and have maybe taken a few hours of pain management courses to keep their license current. Also depending on where you live (West Virginia, other mid-west or central states), they are apt to think “drug-seeking” first and ask questions later. At this point it is up to us to find our own care. Then they ask why so many of us are on the streets. It’s a vicious cycle, and by lumping pain patients in with heroin addicts and fentanyl addicts, this Administration has created a monster that will not be defeated anytime soon. In order to truly overcome the opioid epidemic, pain patients must somehow be parsed out and our conditions be legitimized. Until someone listens to us, they will continue to treat us as nothing more than addicts searching for a fix. And until that point, I will continue being the squeakiest of wheels, the loudest of patients, because I deserve to be cared for. My injury is not visible, but my pain is there, and it is legitimized by more than a decade’s worth of medical records. Be loud, be consistent, and find a doctor who truly specializes in pain management. I can’t believe your neurologist says to do the “Choose Wisely” program. Seriously? SERIOUSLY? How on earth is nerve pain going to respond to that? However, let’s talk about the Quell unit, that was your first question. I use the Quell every day, not at nights (the vibration keeps me up, and I’m better when I’m flat on my back anyway). On really bad days, I also use a TENS unit on my neck. I’m not sure how effective the Quell is on head conditions, but I think it would be great for your fibro. I do still take medications, though I am able to vary the dosages on good and bad days. It was kind of a “couldn’t function” before the Quell, now it’s a “Hey, I can get out of the house and do things” afterward. If you have more questions, send me an email and we can chat: jennifer@writmore.com. 🙂 I hope things get better for you!

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  8. Jane says

    I have been using my Quell pain relief device since friday and it truly is life changing. My constant pain has gone from about a 6/7 to a 1/2!!! I am so excited about this and cant wait to share it with anyone else that suffers from chronic pain. I am so glad you blogged about this. I cant thank you enough for sharing your story!! Have a beautiful day:)
    Jane

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  9. I was shot in 1995 through my neck and into my left shoulder when I was 21. Over the years I went from eating Advil and Tylenol like candy to opiate based pain meds from my doctor, which I still take to this day. I have done PT, tried Tens units which help a little on bad days, acupuncture, massages with stretching from time to time. I have soft tissue and muscle scarring in my left shoulder and some nerve pain that runs down my arm. Interested in this device for possible helping with pain management. Do you think this could help with my daily neck and shoulder pain?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hmmm. This is a new area for me. I’m so sorry for your pain, I can’t imagine what that’s like. If it’s nerve-based, then I imagine it would have an effect, especially if TENS help on bad days. I do know that if you order directly from the company, they have a 60-day trial period, and if it doesn’t work you can get your money back. (I’m not employed by them or affiliated or anything… I just really like them.) I knew that it worked for me within a day, so you would definitely be able to figure it out within that period of time. I’ve also learned since I wrote this post that it grows in efficacy and power over time as you repeatedly use it because it learns how to best work for you with the app. Maybe try it like that and see if you like it? They also have a good customer care team that could answer your questions. Maybe they’ve had other gunshot victims call before about the product. I’d be really curious to know the answer, so we could let others know! Good luck!

      Like

    • Jim,
      Although I was not shot, I have muscle, joint, and nerve pain in the same areas. I have noticed an improvement, even with the change of weather. The machine sends electrical stimulation, but our muscles and even blood vessels have nerves. I have found that the machine helps me relax which helps the muscle pain. I think it will help. If you do try it please let us know how it works for you.

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  10. Bought it from QVC on 3 payment plan. As a bio-psychology major I recognized right away that Quell seems to work by altering the pain gate system. Basically it overrides the chronic pain signals. At this point, I personally wouldn’t care how it works as long as it does. I am ready to rip my hair out. I have had CRPS for decades. Nothing works for long, especially at night. I have used it for a week now. Although the iPad app doesn’t seem to register it I have actually slept for 4 hours straight every night. I have noticed on one leg I tend to disconnect it with leg movements. I am going to see if I can add a strap over the opening to prevent this.

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